Book Shopping in Rome

When: February 25, 2017
Where: Alan’s Used Books, Dogwood Books, Myrtle Hill Cemetery, Barnes & Noble

Anyone who knows me, knows this: I love books! In fact, I will probably be posting many trips based around looking for bookstores. In Rome, Georgia, there are currently 3 bookstores I’m aware of–Alan’s Used Books on Broad Street, Dogwood Books on the opposite side of Broad Street, and a Barnes & Noble on Turner-McCall Boulevard where Riverbend Mall used to be (Riverbend Market Place currently). Early last year, when the idea for this website first popped into my head, I decided on this day trip with my equally enthusiastic teenage daughter, and we recorded much of it in photographs.

First stop: Alan’s Used Books. I’d been following this bookstore on social media for a while before setting foot in the actual store. We live about 40 miles from Rome, so it’s not often that we visit just to shop. This particular day was beautiful and warm for February. The parking along Broad Street was full, so we ended up in a lot behind The Herb Shop at the end, and walked the several blocks up to Alan’s. It’s a gorgeous downtown environment with an upscale vibe, yet old-fashioned at the same time. If we weren’t on a bookstore mission, we would have gladly wandered around the various shops for hours.

Alan’s Used Books is ensconced in a row of historic buildings which my mom likes to remind me were old even when she worked in the area in the 1970’s. As I love all things yesteryear, I felt right at home inside the store. My daughter spent most of her time stalking the friendly bookstore cat, Cormac McKitty, while I looked for some of my favorite authors and took stock of the many different genres on display. There were several other patrons inside, and the space being limited, I did not try to take photos–although one photo of Cormac was a must! We found like-new special edition hardcover copies of the comic version of our favorite TV show, The Walking Dead, and snatched them up.

This bookstore has an excellent selection and great prices. The books are arranged in an easy-to-find manner with clearly separated sections. Like many used bookstores, it has its own quaint style and the addition of the feline friend makes it a fun trip for cat lovers and kids! One of my favorite things about Alan’s Used Books is their welcoming hometown appeal via their social media presence. Boxes of books are periodically set out front on Sundays, given away for free, with a heads-up posted to Facebook. There is also a book highlighted several times per week on Tumblr and Instagram, which entices readers to add to their reading lists!

Across the street (please use the crosswalks!) and down a little is another bookstore, Dogwood Books. Where Alan’s has a great selection of more current books, Dogwood focuses on old, rare and hard-to-find books. They have a stellar selection of local history and southern books, as well as a great resource for family history enthusiasts–past yearbooks from all the local schools.

There’s an entire section devoted to Gone with the Wind, Georgia History, Presidential Biography, and a sizable aisle for history books (yes, I do love reading about history!) One of the most noteworthy finds is a $6,000 first edition copy of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Unlike Alan’s, Dogwood Books doesn’t have an active social media presence, however, they do have a searchable inventory list of over 7,000 books through Abe Books. The oldest book listed is a History of England’s King Edward IV from 1640 (and only $450)! Dogwood Books is the type of bookstore you can get lost in for hours, and is best browsed with fellow book lovers so that you actually have time to sift through shelves thoroughly.

After leaving these two book havens, we were feeling peppy, and decided to hike up the hill of the adjacent cemetery, Myrtle Hill. The city’s website states that a tour map is offered at the Visitor’s Center or as a PDF download on the website. There’s also an app with some fun features, such as tour challenges, local places, and events.

We didn’t have knowledge or access to any of these at the time, however, and just hiked up the hill via pathways and crumbling stone staircases–not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs–there is, I am sure, a paved entrance for easier access. However, we made it, and there’s a breathtaking view of the skyline at the very top! Though we didn’t linger to check out the gravestones, there are many historically significant burials at Myrtle Hill, including First Lady Ellen Louise Axson Wilson, who was raised in Rome.

The last place we stopped before heading home was Barnes & Noble–not everyone’s definition of a blog-worthy outing, but as it completes our bookstore-filled day, it deserves a mention. My daughter is a huge fan of B&N’s Studio Ghibli merchandise, and I like browsing both the new book tables and the bargain books. I found an Austen-inspired novel, The Pursuit of Mary Bennet, which I soon after read and reviewed on my historical fiction review site, Historical-Fiction.com.

Late Winter Visit to Rolater Park

When: March 3, 2018
Where: Rolater Park, Cave Spring
Official Website
Facebook Page

Since the weather has been unseasonably mild lately, we decided to take a short trip to Cave Spring while visiting family in Cedartown. It’s a pleasant 20 minute drive down a winding country road with thick foliage, old houses, and spectacular views. The park’s main attraction, the cave (“natural limestone with impressive stalagmites and legendary ‘Devil’s Stool’ formation”), is closed until April, but visitors can still enjoy the beautiful grounds which include ducks wandering freely, a fish pond stocked with trout (no fishing in this spot, but fish food can be purchased from the shop when it’s open), wading in the spring water, picnic areas, and generous seating. There is also a hiking trail, which at this time of year is entirely visible through the trees, but in the warmer months can be tricky to navigate.

This building, The Hearn Academy, replaced the original 1838 Manual Labor School for Boys that was destroyed by fire in the early 20th century. It was built on the site in 1910 and is now used for special events. There is also a church on the grounds that serves as a wedding venue, and a historic inn adjacent from the church. Further down you’ll find a kids’ playground area, a chlorine-free pool (Rolater Lake), and another shallow area near the entrance where you’ll sometimes find children fishing. Leashed pets are welcome in the park.

Rolater Park makes a pleasant day-trip with kids, especially when the cave is open to visitors! If you’d like to try the “award-winning” water, bring along some empty jugs. It’s free! Other attractions in Cave Spring include antique shops and restaurants. Google Maps shows a Welcome Center and History Museum, though I can’t confirm its existence with this particular trip.

(quoted phrases are from the official website of Cave Spring)

PHOTOS ADDED FROM A SUBSEQUENT VISIT 3/18/18